Today is the 149th anniversary of my grandfather’s birth.
William Alexander Higgins was born in Iron Gate, Virginia on May 22, 1868.
He was 51 when his last child, my mother, was born and 84 when I was born. I was 15 months old when he died, so I have virtually no memory of him.
I have seen few pictures of him, and only have one; a copy of a photograph taken when he was a young man.
I’ve been told he was rather fond of me and remarked to my grandmother as to the fact I was “the prettiest baby,” but I assume he was partial to all 40 of his grandchildren/
I’ve never heard my mother or her sisters say a negative word about the man.
He was married twice. His first wife left him for another man in 1912 and “saddled” him with three children – an act unheard of in the Appalachian holler where he spent most of his life.
He met and married my Grandmother, a widow with six children, in 1913. They were married for 40 years before his arteriosclerosis got the best of him.
I say, met and married, but in reality, they must have known one another for quite some time as they were second cousins.
When he was born, Virginia had not been readmitted to the Union following the Civil War; he was a child of Reconstruction – three of my grandparents were.
The year he was born, the typewriter was “perfected” by Christopher Sholes and Edison applied for a patent on the first electronic voting machine.
George Westinghouse came UP with the air-brake, and the Brits used traffic lights for the first time.
Multiple Sclerosis was discovered and named, and an element later called helium was first detected in the Sun’s chromospheres during a total eclipse in India. The Frenchman who discovered it thought he was looking at sodium, so it went unnamed for a decade or so more.
Grandpa would not have cared; he was glad the sun came UP every day and thankful for what the wonders of the earth gave him.
He was too old to go to battle during the Great War, and far too old with far too many children when WW II rolled around.
He worked most of his life.
He farmed as well as worked for the B & O Railroad as night watchman.
He grew, raised, slaughtered, and cured everything the family ate.
He brought UP three sons and nine daughters in a home without indoor plumbing and electricity.
He never owned a car.
He never owned a television.
He never had a phone.
In today’s world, with so much we take for granted, I am amazed at how different his life was than mine is today, yet he’s technically only a generation away.
I wonder what he would think of us today.